Vitamins play a significant role in chemical processes and reactions. They give energy indirectly and extract energy from other macronutrients. Natural foods, such as cauliflower, mushrooms, bananas, orange, whole grains, milk, meat, and fish are rich in B vitamins. Vitamin C is present in tomatoes, potatoes, citrus fruits, and fish. Fortified cereals, dairy, eggs, and fish contain vitamin D. Minerals are of two types: primary and trace minerals, based on their total amount required daily. Calcium and potassium are significant minerals, and iron and iodine are trace minerals. Kale, corn, milk, and soybeans are rich sources of calcium. Magnesium is found in spinach, lettuce, pineapple, banana, whole grains, yogurt, cheese, and meat. Spinach, raisins, oatmeal, and meats are rich in iron. Green beans, banana, cheese, nuts, and meat are rich in selenium.
Young women athletes involved in weight managing sports may have insufficient calcium intake. Calcium excretion increases with strenuous physical training. Therefore, these people need calcium and vitamin D supplementation.
Iron is an avital mineral in the sports activity. It is an essential factor involved in oxygen metabolism for energy production during exercises.
Athletes who consume a carbohydrate-rich diet with low protein and fat may lower their zinc intake. Selenium supplements can prevent the peroxidation of erythrocyte membranes and cellular structures in muscle cells involved in O2 metabolism.
Sodium is essential for athletes since it gets lost through sweat. However, it can affect blood pressure, and athletes must avoid excess sodium intake.
Interpreting Food Labels
The ingredients listed in a descending order show their predominance in the product. This order includes the ingredient that weighs the most in the first place and the ingredient that weighs the least in the last place. Athletes can use this information to find the nutrient quantity in the product, and they can avoid allergic or intolerant food additives. Many cereal products have a large number of refined and added sugars.
The nutrition facts panel guides consumers about nutrient amounts in quantifiable terms. Food product manufacturers use the nutritional facts panel within the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines and provide correct nutrient content details of the food.
Athletes can gather the nutrient intake value of a food source by multiplying the nutritional information with the number of servings. Hence, athletes must be aware of the per-unit serving size and servings mentioned in the food products.
Athletes need all vitamins and minerals, but the four nutrients â€“ vitamins A and C and minerals like calcium and iron have a particular focus. People in the United States consume these four nutrients in suboptimal amounts.
Food labels contain the percent daily value. Therefore, athletes can tally up the percentages of foods consumed daily and aim for 100%. However, the percent daily value is for a person who follows a 2000calorie diet. Hence, obtaining 100% of nutrients may not fulfill the nutrient needs of athletes.
Enriched, Fortified Food and Supplements
The germ and bran in the whole grains are significant sources of vitamins and minerals. Hence, refined food products like bread, rice, and pasta are less nutritious. Therefore, the FDA had made it mandatory to replace the nutrient loss during the milling process of food products. However, nutrition professionals accept that supplements do not improve athletesâ€™ performance.
Enrichments are the vitamins and minerals added to refined products. Fortification is the method of adding vitamins and minerals to foods in which they are initially absent. For example, sports supplements like energy bars and drinks contain highly fortified vitamins and minerals.
Athletes must read the food label to know about their daily intake of vitamins and minerals. Soy milk products have added vitamin D and vitamin B12.
Athletes must increase their daily consumption of fiber. They can choose whole grain, whole wheat, or enriched wheat products.
Self-prescription of supplements can result in an overdose and toxic symptoms like diarrhea and rashes. Nutrients commonly low in athletesâ€™ diets are iron, calcium, B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin D, magnesium, and selenium. Misused fat-soluble vitamin supplements are toxic.
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